Maybe John Connor Was Right

The first official post on Epic Epoch didn’t go quite as planned. In fact, I was struggling to think of a post worthy enough to be considered my first on the site. That was, until, I have what appears to be a crashed hard drive on my school’s Macbook.

Context: our school district issues Macs to staff. This particular Mac has been under my ever watchful eye for about a year and a half. I also have had an Interactive White Board for about the same amount of time.
So I’m trying to tie a ribbon around a stellar lesson I was planning on giving tomorrow – one that I will be observed by my administrator no less – and my Mac doesn’t do anything. I can’t open up any programs or files. I can’t even do a soft restart. Nada. Beyond this being maddeningly frustrating, it got me thinking: for all of the praise it’s getting, is educational technology somewhat of a snake oil?

Now hear me out, I LOVE using ed tech, I do. Personally, I think it makes a very real difference in students’ educational experience, it vastly can improve literacy, higher level thinking skills, collaboration, etc., but what happens when we become so dependent on the technology to do our jobs that we get to a point that we simply can’t do it if it’s not there?

What happens when a computer dies on you.
I thought computers weren't supposed to die on you.

In The Terminator, the main character, John Connor, is supposed to prevent a future ruled by machines. While I’m not suggesting our educational system is heading down the path of Skynet, I am suggesting that we may begin to raise a generation with the man vs. machine narrative subliminally running in the background. In a mad land grab where we try desperately to understand our kids and reach them on their level and “push” their creative boundaries with all these fantastic and innovative ed tech ideas, we have to remember that the best way to successfully integrate ed tech with our students lives is to teach them balance.

As much as I love having my students create a Google Map, sometimes its more beneficial and rewarding to give them a piece of paper and a pencil and tell them to draw, be imaginative. Just because an iPod Touch can be an extremely useful learning tool, it doesn’t mean having a PMP in your hand is the only way you should be able to learn.

As I plow forward into ed tech and giddily grab hold of each new valuable resource I see, I think balance is such an important thing to remember for myself, and my students. And it only took a crashed laptop to remind me of that…

Turns out my hard drive wasn’t fried. Still don’t know what the root cause of the issues were, but thank goodness for our IT guy “fixing” the Macbook at 7:15 in the morning.

Still, I was totally dependent on a machine for my lesson, which, when you think about it, means that 85 of my students’ education for the day was also dependent on it too.